Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Fun Run and Then Some

One of our local running store chains, Fleet Feet, sponsors several free historic fun runs throughout various neighborhoods in Chicago.  Today's run happened to be all about my neighborhood, Albany Park!  So I said, "Heck!  Why not.  I always like to learn more about where I live.  And I can get my run in, too."  Well, the running part of the fun run is not very vigorous.  It's more of a slow jog with many, many, MANY stops, so that we can learn little historical tidbits.  I knew I wouldn't get much running in during the actual fun "run," so I chose to run there and back, as well.  The history lesson was actually pretty interesting, and we got to see a deer at Peterson Park, which was awesome!  A nice part of the "run" was learning that I have a wood-chip path along the Chicago river near my house, which only goes about a  1/4 mile, but nevertheless is a nice break from pavement.  And it's right along the water, so even better!

I decided to take this little path as part of my route home.  I saw a Canada goose family with some pre-adolescent goslings along the bank, being adorable.  Unfortunately, however, mama goose stood right in my path and hissed at me.  Geese are big and mean!  And protective mama geese are not to be reckoned with.  This path is not wide, mind you, so I had to stop in my tracks and slowly walk around her, saying, "Hey now! I'm not gonna touch your babies.  Just gotta get by now," and try not to get my eyes pecked out.  She decided to spare me, thankfully.  So, add Angry Goose to one of the perils now.

In my previous blog post I had mentioned some of my favorite things about running in the city, as well as some of the strangest things I've seen while running.  I had forgotten to mention one, which is even more strange, considering his recent fame in the news and the courtroom.  One Christmas day, a few years ago, I was running past Wrigley Field toward the lakefront.  It was a cold, crisp morning, and the streets were pretty empty.  Ahead I could see a figure running toward me.  At least it looked as though it was running.  But it also was making spastic movements that I didn't recognize right away.  It turned out to be our then-current governor, Rod Bagojevich, running toward me and air boxing.  It was pretty amusing to watch, so I just said, "Hi, Rod!" as I ran by.  He had a bodyguard on a bike next to him, and in a few minutes I saw a big black SUV drive by, presumably with more guards aboard.  These days, I'm sure, there'd be a camera crew in tow, as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Since it is National Running Day (yes, apparently it’s a thing), I thought I should post something.  And, since I have been accused of only kvetching on this blog, I decided to write about some of my favorite things about running in the city.  So here you go:
Not much beats running along Lake Michigan on the Lakefront Path.  The lake breeze (in the summer that is, not the face-ripping wind in the winter) and the scenery can’t be beat.  My all-time favorite view of the Chicago skyline from the Lakefront Path is heading southbound, just to the south of North Avenue Beach.  You can see Navy Pier, the Ferris wheel, along with the Hancock Building and the rest of the skyline.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  The view of the skyline facing north at the Shedd Aquarium is probably my second favorite view.  Come to Chicago and check it out!
I also love running in Chicago because there is always something interesting going on, so the backdrop for your run is always changing.  Sometimes you may even catch a crazy character, like the Hi Guy, who adds a little zest to an otherwise long, exhausting run.  For those of you who don’t know the Hi Guy, he is a “character” in every sense of the word.  He's an older man who runs in sandals and a yellow t-shirt with “Hi” written in magic marker and a smilie face.  Sometimes he wears a beanie with a propeller.  He also rides a kooky bike, if he’s not on foot.  He will write in sidewalk chalk “Hi” and images of smilie faces.  Always say, “Hi” to Hi Guy because he will never fail to give you an enthusiastic “Hi!” right back.  I hear that you should not engage him in conversation, however, because he is a bit off his rocker.  So if you don’t have time for a long-winded conversation, just say “Hi, Guy!” as you run by and wave.  J
The craziest thing I have seen on one of my runs in Chicago is at a tie:  a person running while pushing a white poodle wearing pink goggles in a stroller vs. a chicken (well, technically a rooster).  ‘Nuff said.
Since I recently moved away from the lake, I now run along the Chicago River path.  It is actually quite lovely and not as crowded as the Lakefront Path can be with all the bikers, roller bladers, and tourists.  There is always a squirrel party going on along the riverfront park, and you may get lucky enough to see a great blue heron.  The other day I saw a whole gaggle of goslings swimming in formation.  I almost fell into the water from total cuteness overload!
Okay, happy running, everyone!  Now get out there and break a sweat!